I held the hummingbird in my palm, expecting it to fly but it cocked its head instead and stared at me. I stared back. It felt light as air and its body whirred like a tiny motor. Moments stretched into timelessness. With a coaxing nudge from the national park biologist, it flitted away. I had just released a newly banded hummingbird back into the wild!
What a delightful way to spend a morning at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, AZ. A national park volunteer tipped us off to the banding “event” the day before which felt more like a private gathering of dedicated bird-lovers. A picnic area hidden under a canopy of tall trees revealed a team of five national park employees and volunteers set up to record and band migrating hummingbirds in association with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (www.hummonnet.org). As the sole attendees, Greg and I happily took front row seats on a picnic bench near the work table filled with banding pliers, hatpin-like posts holding tiny bands imprinted with numbers, a feeder, white mesh bags, mini “pillows” and other interesting paraphernalia. The park biologist welcomed us and described the process. Just minutes later we watched it unfold.
A hummingbird landed on one of two feeders, 20 feet away, and a net dropped like a curtain, creating a makeshift cage.
Cables stretched from the nets to stands manned by the crew. With just the touch of a switch, it was curtain time. Timing is key and sometimes the feathered beauties escaped before the finale.
Quickly, carefully, the captive bird was placed in a mesh bag and delivered to the biologist who checked to see if it was banded.
This black-chinned hummingbird was not sporting the numbered anklet. “How’d you learn to do this?” Greg asked as we watched her gently place a measuring tool on a skinny, twig-like leg sticking through a hole in the bag. “Extensive training. We actually practiced on toothpicks”, she replied. After applying the band she hand-held the bird, made some measurements and softly blew through a straw separating breast and neck feathers to check for fat content (thick necks) and developing eggs.
Then, the bird was gently wrapped in a sheer fabric square (feet and head sticking out) like a mini-burrito and weighed on a scale. A team member recorded all the data during the process which took five minutes or less.
With a swooping motion mimicking the hummingbird’s natural flight to a feeder, the biologist held the bird at the table-top feeder while it drank its fill of sweetness.
“Would you like to release the bird?” she asked me. I opened my hand and she placed the hummingbird in my palm.
Loving Life On and Off the Tracks
Connecting people to nature
Wild photos and the tales they tell
Living Life and Making Memories
Stubborn And Courageous Adventures Reflecting the Father's Heart to The People.
Definition: A distinct kind or sort what liveth in man-made automobilehomes
ad•ven•ture: an exciting or remarkable experience
The Mitch and Val "Roadshow"
The Wildlife in Nature
Art, travel, and livin' the life
“It is good people who make good places.” ― Anna Sewell
Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything costa rica. Information, stories, news, advice - written by the Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated team - costa rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.
Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing
A weblog of the travels and adventures of photographer Lee Rentz
Escape Explore Experience
Follow the Blonde Coyote and see more of the world!
photography from the ground up